Bernie Sanders' campaign will ratchet up its criticism of Joe Biden and highlight the senator's record in three new TV ads rolled out Wednesday and set to run in upcoming primary states.
It unveiled the ads a day after Super Tuesday, when the former vice president notched a few surprising presidential primary wins on his way to an overall pledged delegate lead over Sanders, according to NBC News. The fourteen states that voted Tuesday will allocate more than a third of all pledged delegates.
With the ads, Sanders looks to gain traction over the candidate who has emerged as his chief rival in the 2020 Democratic primary as the party coalesces around Biden. New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts both performed poorly Tuesday. By Wednesday morning, Bloomberg dropped out and endorsed the former vice president.
The new ads will run in nine states that hold a pivotal slate of nominating contests on March 10 and March 17: Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, and Washington. The campaign did not say how much it would spend on the buy.
One of the messages whacks Biden over Social Security. Sanders has drilled into him on the issue in a possible attempt to blunt Biden's strength among older voters. It features audio the Sanders campaign highlighted earlier this year.
In the 1995 comments, Biden suggests the U.S. should "freeze" federal spending, including Social Security, Medicare Medicaid and veterans' benefits. He continues: "And I not only tried it once. I tried it twice. I tried it a third time. And I tried it a fourth time."
Biden has argued the Sanders campaign took his comments out of context. Earlier this year, he told MSNBC he would not cut Social Security benefits if he wins the White House, adding, "we weren't talking about cutting them either then."
Another new ad unveiled Wednesday features video of Sanders and President Barack Obama laughing together as they walk into the White House. It plays audio of Obama's 2016 comments saying Sanders has "great authenticity" and passion and "got bills done" on the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee.
Biden, who served eight years under the former president, has tied himself closely to Obama and repeatedly touted the achievements of the "Obama-Biden administration" during the primary.
A third Sanders TV ad set to run in the states voting later this month features a union autoworker highlighting Sanders' opposition to free trade deals. The senator argues agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and Trans-Pacific Partnership have clobbered American workers by pushing companies to move jobs overseas.
The ad points to Biden's support for NAFTA as a senator — a vote Sanders has repeatedly criticized during the primary. The message could help Sanders in manufacturing states such as Michigan and Ohio. He surprisingly triumphed over Hillary Clinton in Michigan during the 2016 Democratic primary.
When the Sanders campaign announced a mammoth $46.5 million haul for the month of February alone, it said it planned to run TV ads in the nine states. Biden, at a cash disadvantage against Sanders for the primary so far, has started to see more donor interest after his Super Tuesday success.